Work first, play later

A note about Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ work habits:

Elder Oaks has often quoted his motto, “Work first, play later.” His family jokes that it is really “Work first, play never.”

“I don’t do anything for fun. I just have fun at what I do,” he explains.

“Time is a stewardship, and my goal is simply not to waste any.”

(Don L. Searle, “Elder Dallin H. Oaks: ‘It Begins by Following the Other Apostles’,” Ensign, Jun 1984, 15.)

I am afraid my family would say the same about me: work first, play never!

Elder Oaks repeated similar counsel to students at Brigham Young University, shortly after his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“I know of no better words of advice on the subject of ceasing to be idle than to “work first and play after.” The discipline of forcing oneself to work first, until the job is completed–whether it be a daily assignment, a term paper, or other needed task–and only then to enjoy the pleasure of play, is a master secret of life. It bears immediate fruits in accomplishment, but its most important effects are long-range. In following this priority we learn self-discipline, which unlocks the door to undreamed-of accomplishments.

How do you spend your time? Are you the master of your time, or do others control it by flicking the switch on a television or by impromptu invitations to pleasures or diversions that you have no willpower to resist? Work first and play after.”

(Counsel for Students, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, BYU Devotional, 18 September 1984.)

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